Poor Little Zeh-teh-ah

Little Zeh-teh-ah is a really poor chap. Those brutes are constantly throwing crap at him. He can’t really digest it (he tried and threw up) but it nonetheless sticks to him, more on the outside, and makes him big and ugly. If he can’t come to terms with those brutes, he will certainly end up in a big-ball-of-mud.

But he had tried so many things, already.

Talking to them didn’t work. They seem deaf to his objections and his real wishes. They even think they are doing something good, not really for him, but in general.

Of course he had told dad, who is responsible for him in the end, and dad tried fiercely. He talked to the brutes and asked them politely to give Zeh-teh-ah only the good stuff, that he actually can digest and that he needs to grow healthily. He even told them the truth: that over time their crap will stick to Zeh-teh-ah poor and poorer. Until nothing would stick to him anymore and the big-ball-of-mud will fall apart with a heart-attack.

And they seemed to listen to him, but only for so long. Since brutes don’t live that long and are very oblivious in their late days, they simply forgot what dad told them and they even forgot to pass the rules of Zeh-teh-ah’s well-being to their next generation.

Continuously reminding them — dad tried, of course — was simply nothing that he had time for. Dad has many other responsibilities, you know: mom and her friends need him desperately to make sense of their weird ideas towards Zeh-teh-ah’s future and dad’s workers need to be shown the real directions in which Zeh-teh-ah should grow and they need his advice in the resulting diet plan and recipes.

The doctor and his apprentices, the ones that actually prepare the food, need his advice has well, since those plans and recipes are often deeply flawed, at least at the detail level.

Dad also has to make sure that Zeh-teh-ah’s playmates are happy. That’s the really tough job, since he has to read from their eyes what Zeh-teh-ah should be able to do, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and in ten years. And even harder at times is covering up the brutes’ crap with a pretty layer of nice words.

After giving up on the constant reminder, dad turned to the other dads for advice but most of them had similar problems with their children being bullied by the brutes. So he reluctantly asked grandpa. And grandpa, as snippy and know-it-all as always, said: “Son you have to protect your child, put a huge funnel in front of my dear grandson and examine every single thing for it’s healthiness that comes through at the end.”

Dad was devastated. He loves his son, but how should he be able to examine every single thing that Zeh-teh-ah will stumble across. He knows his son from head to toe, but he lacks knowledge and the skill to dig under his skin. Their are actually quite complex layers deeper inside, that only the doctor and his apprentices know well. And yes, the doctor, is much busier (with making healthy stuff from the recipes, surgically removing that sticky crap or helping Zet-teh-ah absorb that crap) than dad himself.

And dad has other problems, his other duties of course (mom, the playmates, …) and he can’t really guarantee that the funnel, regardless how big it is, will catch everything.

Soon, dad gave up on finding a real solution and picked up the fight with the brutes again. This way, he hoped, Zeh-teh-ah will survive, at least. Better ugly and ill than dead.

Of course Zeh-teh-ah didn’t only ask dad for help. No, he asked mom as well. And mom was furious (as always when something irks her). Her reaction (as always) a tea-party invitation. She invited the brutes, dad, Zeh-teh-ah, the doctor and even grandpa (besides her tendency to forget him).

Before continuing, some background information about mom, grandpa and the brutes is necessary. The hard truth is: mom ‘made’ the brutes and grandpa even encouraged her. It wasn’t entirely her idea. Of course it wasn’t.

And now the real revelation: it was actually (a) god. I’m not sure which one and maybe he has only a self-proclaimed godlike-status. But that doesn’t really matter.

That god told her, that all the mothers grow their children by having many short-lived brutes that feed their children from many sides simultaneously. The brutes — they (mom and the god) don’t call them that way, of course — are fast and flexible and will make your child grow pretty, big, and that pretty fast.

Since every god told similar things — besides that everyone of them claims to be the one and only, with the one and only right method to select, drill, and steer those brutes — there wasn’t much debate about if they were a good thing, or actually necessary at all.

So despite being not mom’s ideas, it was her, who opened the gate and let the brutes in.

Back to the tea party. The brutes, as always, were very polite to mom, and kept boasting how much weight Zeh-teh-ah has gained, by their constant struggle — struggling actually with dad, who fought to let only the good things through.

The brutes even brought a nice bouquet full of colourful charts and numbers. And mom (as always) was impressed.

What achievements could dad or the doctor lately present to mom, actually? They are only constantly complaining that they don’t have time and need more apprentices and workers. And Zeh-teh-ah isn’t even gaining something through their work, it’s rather loosing weight. Even dad’s, the doctor’s and grandpa’s objections that weight isn’t everything fell on almost deaf ears.

In the end mom did as always, a tiny slap on the backside for the brutes and the demand to find a tradeoff. But please without her. The headache, you know.

Poor little Zeh-teh-ah. Nothing substantial changed and the big-ball-of-mud-future came closer with every single day. It seemed that the number of brutes even increased and dad and the doctor lost some of their helping hands to them.

But meanwhile, coming from another plane, an old wood spirit entered the realm in which Zeh-teh-ah resided. The gods, mom, dad, the brutes and grandpa didn’t notice the spirit at first, but Zeh-teh-ah in his agony came to here about it from little roots the spirit had send out to heal all the children, apprentices, and workers that were suffering from the brutes.

The power of the spirit grew with the time passing and roots stretching and it even transformed itself to better suite Zeh-teh-ah’s world and suddenly it helped Zeh-teh-ah to come to a conclusion: “I don’t need the brutes. No child like me needs them.”

Zeh-teh-ah talked to dad and could convince him quite easily. Zeh-teh-ah talked to the doctor, who had by then, heard about the spirit as well, and was intrigued already.

Mom would prove a challenge, though. And how the playmates and their parents could be talked into abandoning the brutes wasn’t clear as well. But Zeh-teh-ah took heart in the idea and confronted mom.

He had learned quite a few things from the brutes, after all. So he invited her for a tea-party, inviting all the others as well, the brutes, dad, the doctor, grandpa and even some of his favourite playmates. At first he presented his alarming health state in a quite reddish dominated but nonetheless beautifully bouquet of charts and numbers. The doctor and dad had helped him arranging it.

Than he presented his idea in a great presentation. Without explicitly addressing the missing brutes, he laid out a very simple system that addresses his healthiness, his future transformation (since growth isn’t everything), how his playmates will get what they want from him, and how mom will see what’s going on.

Summarised in bullets:

  1. Zeh-teh-ah and his well-being is the primary focus.
  2. Capabilities that Zeh-teh-ah should achieve are identified by dad together with the playmates that want them.
  3. Those still-to-learn-capabilities are kept in a list that the playmates might access to inform themselves when Zeh-teh-ah might be able to do as requested.
  4. Mom, her friends, and dad decide what is on top of the list and will be learned first.
  5. Dad and his workers pick the uppermost item from the list and think about the necessary recipes to make food that gives Zeh-teh-ah the requested skill.
  6. The doctor with his apprentices works with dad and his workers to get the food right.
  7. Zeh-teh-ah get’s the food and if the food does what it should, he might play with the playmate that requested the skill.
  8. If the playmate and his patents are happy Zeh-teh-ah might play with others as well. If not Zeh-teh-ah spits the food out and dad and the doctor make it better until the playmate is happy.
  9. The item on the list is checked off.
  10. Mom gets regularly pretty statistics bouquets about that list, showing: how long does it take the items to get checked off and how many items had been checked off since the last bouquet.
  11. And so it goes on. Mom is kept informed. The playmates and dad figure out cool new stuff that Zeh-teh-ah should learn. The doctor has enough time to work towards a great health level. List items flow in and flow out.

When Zeh-teh-ah had finished there was nothing but silence. No instant objections. “That’s a good sign, isn’t it”, thought Zeh-teh-ah.

And in fact, mom’s eyes glistened, and suddenly the brutes disappeared into nothingness, releasing all the workers and apprentices that they had swallowed.

The End.


  • Zeh-teh-ah: the software system under constant development
  • Brutes: projects that are extending the system.
  • Dad: the product owner / person in charge of the system.
  • Dad’s workers: domain specialists / requirements engineers
  • The doctor: the lead developer / architect of the system
  • The doctor’s apprentices: the software developers
  • Mom: upper management
  • Grandpa: the project management office / methods group
  • Playmates: the users
  • Parents of the playmates: the customers
  • God(s): project / method consultants
  • The wood spirit: the lean movement, later the NoPro idea

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